. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: "Survey Says..."

Friday, March 21, 2008

"Survey Says..."

So I am teaching my students how to design a chart or table and use it for the collection of data. Since I have taught this skill eleven times before (although it feels like a million) I expected some of the potholes we might run into.

For example, because students must generate data, they must design a question to ask their peers which can be answered in a multiple choice format. Of course, the questions they suggested were oldies but goodies such as:

What's your favorite color?
What's your favorite food?
What's your favorite ice cream?
What's your favorite pet?
What's your favorite tv show?

The thought of enduring another data collection lesson about these topics was enough to make me consider jumping out of a window (except my school is only one level so I would have just landed on my feet and been forced to walk back into my classroom in shame.) So I decided to push the envelope a bit and ask the kids NOT to use "What's your favorite___" questions.

"First of all, we can't have open-ended questions. You must have definite answer choices. Try to be more creative. Take your thinking to a higher level. By fourth grade, you guys can develop more mature questions than "What's your favorite___."

I gave a few examples:

Where would you prefer to travel: Mexico, Europe, Asia, or Antarctica?

Where were you born: California, another state, another country?

After brainstorming in small groups, here are some of their suggestions:

If you were to die, would you prefer to be stabbed, shot, hanged, or hit by a car?

Which of these would be your worst nightmare: being eaten alive by a shark, shot by the police, have experiments done on you by aliens, or having to show up to school naked?

What is the grossest thing to eat: worms, toads, poo, or school pizza?

Uuummmm...is anyone else noticing a pattern here?

I must admit, they were kinda freakin' me out. Where is this coming from? These are kids wearing cartoon t-shirts and carrying binders covered in puppies and kittens. They have cute little faces and perpetual bedhead that is sort of endearing.

Is all this innocence a facade?

Of course, I batted down every one of those suggestions (although I will admit to a macabre curiosity about how they might have answered) and sent them back to the drawing board. Here is what they came up with:

Which color do you prefer: red, black, blue or yellow?
Which food do you prefer: pizza, ice cream, tacos, or candy?
Which ice cream do you prefer: chocolate, vanilla, rocky road, or mint chip?
Which pet do you prefer: dog, cat, fish, or bird?
Which tv show do you prefer: Zoey 101, Hannah Montana, Avatar, or George Lopez?

Darn those wiley kids!

1 comment:

Wamblings said...

LMAO - Their dark questions might have generated some interesting graphs.